“Jasmine Revolution”
Symbol of peace: Flowers placed on the barrel of a tank
in very much calmer protests than in recent days in Tunisia

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011
Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi. "Mohammed suffered a lot. He worked hard. but when he set fire to himself, it wasn’t about his scales being confiscated. It was about his dignity." (Peter Hapak for TIME)

1 - TUNISIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

How eyepatches became a symbol of Egypt's revolution - Graffiti depicting a high ranking army officer with an eye patch Photograph: Nasser Nasser/ASSOCIATED PRESS

2 - EGYPT Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

''17 February Revolution"

3 - LIBYA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

5 - SYRIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

"25 January Youth Revolution"
Muslim and Christian shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir Square
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
(Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)
"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects:Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

"If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening."

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."

African Union (AU)

African Union (AU)
Heads of governments during the opening session of the African Union summit on January 30, 2015 at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Few words can describe Nelson Mandela, so we let him speak for himself. Happy birthday, Madiba.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Danish auction house stops ivory sales after protests

Yahoo – AFP, 24 Nov 2015

Ivory, as displayed here at an auction on October 28, 2008 in Windhoek, Namibia,
is sold for jewellery and decorative objects, with much of it is smuggled to China,
where many increasingly wealthy shoppers are buying ivory trinkets (AFP)

Denmark's second largest auction house said Monday it had stopped selling ivory products amid a social media storm over its planned sale of two tusks belonging to an African elephant.

The nearly two-metre (80 inch) tusks, weighing 28 kilogrammes (62 pounds) each, were to have gone under the hammer for a total of 150,000 kroner (20,107 euros, $21,344) on Wednesday.

"We try to be as aware as possible of what can cause offence," Kasper Nielsen, a sales director at Bruun Rasmussen, told AFP.

The move had been based on "the reactions we have received both" from the conservation group WWF "and our customers on social media," he said.

The decision also covered any tusks and horns belonging to the endangered species listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, the company said.

The auction had been slammed by the WWF as immoral, and on the company's Facebook page one user had left comments that said: "Supporting the poachers is horrific!" and: "I will never do business with this outfit again."

Rampant poaching of elephants in Africa has caused a major drop in their numbers over recent decades.

There are between 419,000 and 650,000 elephants left, according to conservation group Save the Elephants.

In a bid to show their determination to end the trade in ivory, Kenya's wildlife authority last week vowed to destroy its vast ivory stockpile from several thousand elephants, nine times more than the largest pile torched so far.

Ivory is sought out for jewellery and decorative objects and much of it is smuggled to China, where many increasingly wealthy shoppers are buying ivory trinkets as a sign of financial success.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Ambassador swims Nile at Khartoum for Facebook bet

Yahoo – AFP, 21 Nov 2015

Sudanese and Dutch women take part in an event to swim across the Blue
Nile in the capital Khartoum on November 21, 2015, as part of an event
organised by Dutch ambassador Susan Blankhart (AFP Photo/Ashraf Shazly)

Khartoum (AFP) - The Dutch ambassador to Sudan swam across the Nile in Khartoum on Saturday in a stunt that began as a bet to win more "likes" for her embassy's Facebook page.

Clad in an bright orange swimsuit bearing the embassy logo, Ambassador Susan Blankhart swam several hundred metres (yards) across the Blue Nile with six other Dutch women and seven Sudanese women, cheered on by dozens of supporters on the riverbank.

"It was lovely, it was beautiful. I would recommend that everyone swims across the Nile," Blankhart said laughing, back on dry land after the crossing.

She had originally said that she would swim across the river if her embassy's Facebook page received more than 10,000 likes.

After she hit the target, the 63-year-old organised the swim with two charities to raise awareness about safe swimming in the Nile.

The group was watched over by a team of Sudanese lifeguards in kayaks and boats as they swam through the muddy water.

The swim was also aimed at promoting women's empowerment in Sudan, Blankhart said.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

UN asks US, Britain to open files on ex-secretary general's death

Yahoo – AFP, 18 Nov 2015

An 1960 photo captures a meeting between then-UN secretary-general Dag 
Hammarskjold and Moise Kapenda Tshombe, leader of the Katanga provincein
what is nowthe Democratic Republic of the Congo (AFP Photo)

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - The United Nations on Wednesday pressed demands that the United States and Britain release secret files on the mysterious death more than 50 years ago of former secretary-general Dag Hammarskjold.

Hammarskjold, the UN’s second secretary-general, died when his plane crashed on 17 or 18 September 1961 near Ndola in Northern Rhodesia -- now known as Zambia.

A UN panel said in July that it had uncovered new information pointing to the possibility that his plane may have been attacked and suggested that answers may be found in classified documents.

Requests sent by the panel to the United States and Britain for the secret files were turned down, but UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked for the information to be released in July.

Ban's request, however, was ignored and the UN chief renewed his appeal on Wednesday.

"There is a possibility that unreleased material relating to the crash of flight SE-BDY on the night between 17 and 18 September 1961 may still be available," Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

"Therefore, the secretary-general again urges all member states to disclose, declassify or otherwise make available all information they may have in their possession related to the circumstances and conditions of the crash," he said.

While no country was singled out, UN officials confirmed that Britain and the United States were rejecting requests for information on the Hammarskjold case.

The mysterious circumstances of the crash has for years fueled conspiracy theories, and the panel did ask Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, South Africa and the United States for specific information.

The 56-year-old Swedish diplomat died in the plane crash while on his way to negotiate a ceasefire for mining-rich Katanga province in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, a former Belgian colony.

The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in December last year demanding that Hammarskjold's fate be cleared up once and for all.

Dujarric said Ban is "personally invested in fulfilling our duty to the distinguished former secretary-general and those who accompanied him, to endeavor to establish the facts after so many years."

The General Assembly is due to present a new draft resolution on Thursday demanding more action to shed light on the former UN chief's fate.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Benin tackles climate change with sunshine and coconuts

Yahoo – AFP, Delphine Bousquet, 17 Nov 2015

Philomene Ahouansou cooks beans and rice by the roadside using a 
solar-powered cooker in Porto-Novo, Benin (AFP Photo/Delphine Bousquet)

Porto-Novo (Benin) (AFP) - Philomene Ahouansou cooks beans and rice in three giant steel pots by the roadside in Benin's capital, Porto-Novo. It's a scene that's common throughout the country.

But instead of a wood-fuelled stove, she's using a solar-powered cooker run on coconut husks, which it's hoped will prevent deforestation and reduce greenhouse gas-producing smoke.

The device -- called "Mivo", which means "Take it easy" in the local Fon language -- has been marketed by a charity called Autre Vie.

For the last three years, the organisation has been trying to turn Beninese away from their reliance on charcoal or wood, which is used in four out of five households for cooking.

"When I heard the advert on the radio, I went straight to the Autre Vie offices to buy three," said Philomene.

"There's no smoke getting in your eyes, it's not too hot, you don't have to ventilate it so the fire takes hold. You can work with it all day," she added.

A solar-powered cooker, called "Mivo", which means "Take it easy" in the 
local Fon language -- has been marketed by a charity called Autre Vie in 
Porto-Novo (AFP Photo)

'We leave the trees in peace'

The cooker -- a metal cylinder with a ceramic bowl on top for the fuel -- works on the convection principle.

A fan -- made from recovered computer parts -- is fixed on one side to a power cable and plugged into a solar panel with a rechargeable battery.

The light from the sun powers the fan, sending a constant stream of hot air to allow cooking.

LED lightbulbs can be attached to the solar panels to give light to customers without electricity, allowing them to stop using dangerous and noxious oil lamps.

"I used wood before. It cost me a lot of money, 25,000 CFA francs ($42, 38 euros) a month," said Philomene. "Coconut husks now cost me 5,000 CFA francs a month."

Most people, like Philomene, cite financial reasons for buying the cooker but they also now know it's more environmentally friendly.

"We leave the trees in peace in the forest. That gives us rain and when it rains things grow. So, it protects us," she said.

With every purchase, Autre Vie tells customers about climate change.

"We cut down trees illegally for charcoal," said young mother Chimene Agossou, who lives in a household of 13 that switched to cooking with sunshine and coconuts two years ago.

"When we extract the coconut oil we're left with the husks. That's not killing the forests."

Executive director of the charity Autre Vie (Another Life) Romuald Djivoessoun
 poses with a solar-powered cooker in Porto-Novo (AFP Photo)

Inspired by blacksmiths

Romuald Djivoessoun made his first prototype of the cooker 10 years ago after seeing blacksmiths burn coconut shells in the forge to melt iron.

He honed the design over the years with the help of craftsmen and academics.

"This cooker is going to reduce deforestation and as a result greenhouse gases," said the talkative engineer who runs Autre Vie.

"For a family of four, a bag of shells lasts six months. With charcoal you need a bag and a half every month. You have to cut wood."

Forests cover only 17 percent of Benin yet some 70,000 hectares (173,000 acres) of forests are disappearing every year, according to Benin's forest and natural resources directorate.

Charcoal production is blamed for part of it.

One study estimated that between 2009 and 2010, charcoal production doubled.

Autre Vie managed to convince 200 female charcoal burners to find and adapt coconut husks for use in the solar cookers.

With financial support from the UN development fund some 800 cookers have now been sold, despite being costly for low-income Benin at 55,000 CFA francs.

Workers make solar-powered cookers at a factory in Akpro-Misserete, outside
of Porto-Novo on October 1, 2015 (AFP Photo)

Djivoessoun said demand is high, with 120 clients on the waiting list, and local craftsmen can't keep up.

The Akpro-Misserete council, near Porto-Novo, donated land to build a small factory to enable more industrial-scale production, which should lower prices and also allow different sizes of cookers to be made.

World leaders are set to gather in Paris in early December for an environmental summit on climate change but Djivoessoun is not happy.

"Small initiatives are not being encouraged. It costs nothing to finance but the impacts are enormous," he said.

Heads of state should look to schemes such as his to make a bigger impact, he added.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Israel approves entry of thousands of Ethopians with Jewish lineage

The Israeli government has approved entry for thousands of Ethiopians claiming to be of Jewish descent. Many of them have been waiting to immigrate to Israel for years.

Deutsche Welle, 15 Nov 2015

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Sunday his government had given the green light to a proposal allowing more than 9,000 Ethiopians to settle in Israel.

"Today we have taken an important decision, to bring to Israel within the next five years the last of the communities with links to Israel waiting in Addis Ababa and Gonder," Netanyahu said in a statement.

The Ethiopians in question, the last members of a group known as Falash Mura, claim Jewish ancestry even though they themselves are Christians, having converted in the 18th and 19th centuries. For this reason, they are not eligible for Israeli citizenship.

A tough life

Many of the Falash Mura have been living in transit camps for years as they waited for the Israeli government's approval. The debate over whether to let the Ethiopian minority in has been going on in Israel for decades.

Around 135,000 Ethiopians live in Israel today, though they often face discrimination and have fewer opportunities for advancement. The first round of Falash Mura immigrants were airlifted to Israel in the 1980s and 1990s, following an official decision made by religious authorities claiming they were descendants of a biblical tribe.

Israel's "law of return" gives people with Jewish heritage the right to resettle there and claim citizenship.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Crash means gloomy days ahead for Egypt's tourist jewel

Yahoo – AFP, Jay Deshmukh, November 7, 2015

Mounting evidence that the Airbus A-321 was downed by a bomb has prompted 
several governments to warn their citizens against travelling to the Egyptian 
Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh (AFP Photo/Mohamed El-Shahed)

Sharm el Sheikh (Egypt) (AFP) - Mohammed Mansour worries that the Russian tourists at his hotel could be the last for some time after Moscow stopped flights to Egypt over the downing of a Russian airliner.

"About 50 percent of my hotel occupants are Russians," Mansour, manager of a leading five-star hotel in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, told AFP.

President Vladimir Putin has ordered all 
Russian flights to Egypt to cease, hitting 
the tourist industry in Sharm el-Sheikh just
 ahead of the peak holiday Christmas and
 New Year season (AFP Photo/Mohamed
"The blow comes just ahead of the peak holiday season of Christmas and New Year."

"Since the 2011 revolution, the Germans, French and other Europeans are already coming in small numbers," Mansour said, referring to the uprising that toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak.

"Now if the Russians avoid coming, Sharm el-Sheikh will be doomed."

"I don't know what happens tomorrow," he said, adding that more than 100 Russians were currently still at the hotel.

On Friday, President Vladimir Putin ordered all Russian flights to Egypt to cease after Cairo and Moscow initially dismissed a claim by the Islamic State group that it downed the plane flying from Sharm el-Sheikh to Saint Petersburg, killing all 224 on board.

Nine of those killed in the October 31 crash had stayed in Mansour's hotel, including a woman and her two children, he said.

Mounting evidence that the Airbus A-321 was downed by a bomb has prompted several governments to warn their citizens against travelling to the Red Sea resort.

But Putin's order on Friday delivered a devastating blow to what is easily the jewel of Egyptian tourism and a favourite holiday hub for Russians.

'Look at the chaos'

The resort, long promoted by Egypt for its pristine beaches and scuba diving, has attracted millions of tourists a year, including hundreds of thousands of Russians and Britons.

At various hotels in Sharm el-Sheikh, stranded Britons mostly stayed indoors or
 on private beaches, ready to leave for the airport at short notice (AFP Photo/
Mohamed El-Shahed)

Before Putin's decision, some two dozen flights a day had ferried thousands of tourists between Sharm el-Sheikh and Russia.

Moscow said that nearly 80,000 Russians were in Egypt on Saturday.

Hundreds queued at Sharm el-Sheikh airport, waiting for their bags to be screened and hoping they could fly out.

"I really don't care what happens to Egyptian tourism now. I just want to go home safe," said Alessandra Kondratieva.

Tourists said many people would also avoid Sharm el-Sheikh because of the way airlines handled the situation in the crash aftermath.

"Look at the chaos. Nobody knows anything," said Bhuvesh Patel, an investment banker from London who has been stranded with his three-year-old son and pregnant wife.

"This puts a negative spin on the holidays and makes you think never to come back."

Sharm el-Sheikh had already been badly hit in 2005 when a series of bombings killed nearly 70 people, but it soon bounced back.

However, what happened to the Saint Petersburg flight could haunt the town for a long time.

Tourists queue up at check-in counters at the airport of Egypt's Red Sea resort
of Sharm El-Sheikh on November 6, 2015 (AFP Photo/Mohamed El-Shahed)

"Tourism in Sharm is driven by Russians," said a senior official with one foreign airline, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Russian tourists are very resort-based, and Sharm meets that profile."

"But Russians are also very disciplined. They take their government's decisions very seriously. At least for the near term, tourism in Sharm will be hit."

Jihadist attacks

Every fifth Russian tourist going abroad flies to Egypt, Russian tourism officials say, adding that even the turmoil that followed the 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi failed to curb their numbers.

Tourism has faltered in Egypt since the anti-Mubarak uprising in 2011, however.

Instability and a rising tide of attacks claimed by jihadists have deterred many would-be visitors, damaging the economy and sending foreign exchange reserves plunging.

Last year, just under 10 million tourists visited Egypt, sharply down on the 15 million who came in 2010.

Tourism accounts for about 12 percent of Egypt's gross domestic product and some 15 percent of its foreign exchange reserves.

And much of this comes from Sharm el-Sheikh.

Once a remote beach on the shores of the Red Sea, the town thrives all year.

Debris from the A321 Russian Metrojet airliner at the site of the crash in Wadi
el-Zolmat, a mountainous area in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, pictured on November 1, 
2015 (AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)

Attractions such as Soho Square are popular for their brightly lit streets, cafes, pubs and children's parks.

"All this will just die if the Russians and Britishers stop coming," one tourist guide told AFP of Soho Square.

"The consensus among intelligence agencies has emerged that an explosive device was planted on the plane, that Sharm el-Sheikh airport was infiltrated," said Fawaz Gerges, professor at the London School of Economics.

"Imagine the long term impact of this. Sharm el-Sheikh is a lifeline... It is the only bright spot for Egyptian tourism and now it has been dealt a devastating blow."

Related Articles:

Morocco king in rare visit to disputed Western Sahara

Yahoo – AFP, 7 Nov 2015

Morocco's King Mohammed VI (L) and his brother Prince Moulay Rachid arrive
at ceremony in Laayoun on November 7, 2015 (AFP Photo/Fadel Senna)

Laayoune (AFP) - Morocco's King Mohammed VI has vowed that revenues from the mineral-rich Western Sahara will continue to be invested locally, on a rare visit to the disputed territory.

He was speaking late Friday in the territory's main city Laayoune, to mark 40 years since hundreds of thousands of Moroccan civilians marched across the border with the then Spanish colony to lay claim to it.

The Green March triggered war with the Algerian-backed Polisario Front which had been campaigning for independence for the territory since 1973 and continues to do so to this day.

King Mohammed, who arrived to much fanfare in the city for only his third visit since he succeeded to the throne in 1999, described the Green March as "a watershed moment in the process of completing the kingdom's territorial integrity".

He listed several projects that are due to be implemented to improve infrastructure in the territory, including a desalination plant and industrial zones.

He promised that "revenues from natural resources will continue to be invested in the region, for the benefit of the local populations and in consultation and coordination with them".

Moroccan protesters take part in a demonstration marking the 40th anniversary
 of the "Green March" on November 6, 2015, in Western Sahara's main city of 
Laayoune (AFP Photo/Fadel Senna)

On Saturday night, during a televised ceremony in Laayoune, the king announced a 7.2-billion-euro development plan for the region.

But King Mohammed also renewed his insistence that there could be no compromise on Morocco's claim to sovereignty over the Western Sahara.

A UN-brokered ceasefire between Morocco and the Polisario has held since 1991, but UN efforts to organise a referendum on the territory's future have been resisted by Rabat.

Morocco has offered some autonomy but flatly refuses to make any more concessions.

"Those who are waiting for any other concession on Morocco's part are deceiving themselves. Indeed, Morocco has given all there was to give," the king said in Laayoune.

The Polisario controls a small part of the desert interior of the Western Sahara but its main base is in Tindouf across the border in Algeria, where tens of thousands of Sahrawi refugees also live in desert camps.

The king lashed out at Algiers for not doing more for the refugees.

"The people in Tindouf... continue to suffer from poverty, despair, deprivation and the systematic violation of their basic rights," he said.

On Wednesday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for negotiations in the coming months to finally settle the Western Sahara dispute.

"This conflict must be brought to an end if the people of the region are to meet their shared challenges and achieve their full potential," Ban said.

He said he had asked his envoy Christopher Ross to intensify efforts to bring Morocco and the Polisario to the negotiating table.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Australia ditches 'out of date' knights and dames

Yahoo – AFP, 2 Nov 2015

Australian High Commissioner Alexander Downer attends a ceremony where
 Queen Elizabeth II presents Prince Philip with the Insignia of a Knight of the
Order of Australia at Windsor Castle on April 22, 2015 (AFP Photo/John Stillwell)

Sydney (AFP) - Australia has removed knights and dames from the national honours system, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Monday, dismissing the ancient titles as "not appropriate" in the modern age.

Knights and dames were unexpectedly revived last year by then prime minister and ardent monarchist Tony Abbott -- prompting accusations he was in a "time warp" and out of touch with voters.

Turnbull, an outspoken republican, had been widely expected to dump the titles ever since he replaced Abbott in a conservative Liberal Party room coup in September.

"The cabinet recently considered the Order of Australia... and agreed that knights and dames are not appropriate in our modern honours system," Turnbull said in a statement.

The prime minister said Britain's Queen Elizabeth had agreed to the government's recommendation to remove knights and dames from the Order of Australia, which recognises achievement and service.

"This change will not affect existing knights and dames," he added.

Speaking later to reporters in Sydney, Turnbull said the matter was "a long way from being the most important issue in Australia today".

But he added: "This reflects modern Australia; knights and dames are titles that are really anachronistic, they're out of date, they're not appropriate in 2015 in Australia."

Abbott's reintroduction of knights and dames in 2014 was questioned, but it was his subsequent decision to knight Queen Elizabeth II's husband Prince Philip which was met with ridicule and disbelief.

Republicans, who favour cutting Australia's ties to the British monarchy, had already accused Abbott of turning the clock back to a colonial mindset, while the Labor opposition said the titles should never have been brought back.

"It was a farce, a joke, a national disgrace," Labor MP Chris Bowen told reporters in Sydney.

"It is not appropriate in modern day Australia ... that we are clinging onto imperial Britain through our honours system, and we shouldn't be celebrating the fact that knights and dames are gone, we should be lamenting the fact that they came back under this government."

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said November 2, 2015 that Britain's
 Queen Elizabeth had agreed to the government's recommendation to remove 
knights and dames from the Order of Australia (AFP Photo/Fiona Goodall)

Republic by stealth

Australia has long wrestled with the idea of cutting ties to the British monarchy, but a 1999 referendum on the issue kept the traditional model under which Britain's Elizabeth II is head of state.

Support for a republic has ebbed in the years since, with a Fairfax-Nielsen poll in 2014 finding that 51 percent of the 1,400 people surveyed favoured the status quo while only 42 percent supported a republic.

The Australian Monarchist League said it was disappointed and concerned by Monday's development, accusing Turnbull of "republicanism by stealth".

"Mr. Turnbull is trying to bring on a republic and this is a way of starting it all off," the league's national chair Philip Benwell told AFP.

"We don't forget that Mr. Turnbull led republicans into the last referendum."

But Australian Republican Movement chair Peter FitzSimons welcomed the demise of knights and dames, saying their reintroduction reflected "Australia of the past, not the diverse and multicultural nation that exists today".

The mis-step over Prince Philip's knighthood was seen as one of the catalysts for a leadership challenge against Abbott in February, adding to flagging opinion polls and an unpopular budget.

He survived the first challenge after awarding the honour to the non-resident duke, dubbed a "knightmare" by the media, but was removed by Turnbull's challenge seven months later.

He has since admitted the decision was a mistake, describing it as "an injudicious appointment, obviously".

Knights and dames were introduced into Australia's system of honours in 1976 by then-prime minister Malcolm Fraser, but abolished a decade later by Bob Hawke.

Previously, Australians had been honoured through British imperial awards.

Related Article:

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Russian plane broke up 'in the air': expert probing crash

Yahoo – AFP, Haitham El-Tabei, 1 Nov 2015

Mourners lay flowers at Pulkovo International Airport outside St. Petersburg on
 November 1, 2015 as Russia mourned its biggest-ever air disaster, a crash in
Egypt that claimed 224 lives (AFP Photo/Olga Maltseva)

WADI Al-ZOLOMAT (Egypt) (AFP) - A Russian airliner that crashed in Egypt broke up "in the air" strewing fragments across a wide area, an expert said Sunday as investigators probed the disaster that killed 224 people.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi urged patience to determine the cause of Saturday's crash, after the Islamic State jihadist group (IS) claimed it brought down the A-321 in Egypt's restive Sinai Peninsula.

"The disintegration happened in the air and the fragments are strewn over a large area," said Viktor Sorochenko, a senior official with Russia's Interstate Aviation Committee, quoted by the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti from Cairo.

Sorochenko, who is heading an international panel of experts, said it was "too early to draw conclusions" about what caused the flight from the Red Sea holiday resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to Saint Petersburg to crash.

Investigators have recovered the "black box" flight recorders and the Egyptian government said its contents were being analysed.

Egyptian soldiers stand guard next to the luggage and belongings of passengers
 of the A321 Russian airliner piled up at the site of the crash in Wadi el-Zolmat
in the Sinai Peninsular on November 1, 2015 (AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)

"In such cases, leave it to specialists to determine the cause of the plane crash because it is a subject of an extensive and complicated technical study," Sisi said.

The crash site in the Wadi al-Zolomat area of North Sinai was littered with blackened aircraft parts Sunday as the smell of burnt metal lingered, an AFP correspondent said.

There were no bodies visible, but soldiers guarded dozen of bags and suitcases belonging to passengers from flight KGL 9268.

A tiny red jacket underlined the horror of the tragedy that also killed 17 children.

Officers involved in the search efforts said rescue crews had recovered 168 bodies so far, including one of a girl found eight kilometres (five miles) from the main wreckage.

Army helicopters hovered above the site as the search for bodies continued.

IS claim downplayed

Flags flew at half mast in Russia on Sunday and entertainment programmes on television were cancelled on a national day of mourning for the victims, most of them Russians ranging in age from 10 months to 77 years.

Cairo said there were 214 Russian and three Ukranian passengers on board, and seven crew members.

Thousands of Russians gathered in Saint Petersburg's Palace Square to observe a minute's silence and release doves and balloons to the darkening sky.

"It was impossible for me not to come," said Nika Kletskikh, 27, who lost a friend in the crash.

"It's so awful to think that she's no longer there."

Both Cairo and Moscow have downplayed the claim from Egypt's IS branch that it brought down the aircraft flown by the airline Kogalymavia, operating under the name Metrojet.

Russia held a day or mourning after 224 people died when a Russian airliner 
crashed in Egypt's Sinai (AFP Photo/Yury Kirnichny)

Prime Minister Sharif Ismail said experts had confirmed the militants could not down a plane flying at 30,000 feet (9,000 metres), the aircraft's flight level, and Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said the claim "cannot be considered accurate".

A Russian team including Sokolov and the emergencies minister, Vladimir Puchkov, visited the scene in a remote part of the Sinai. Later on Sunday they left for Moscow.

Two air accident investigators from France -- Airbus's home country -- were also due in Egypt along with six experts from the aerospace giant.

Germany's Lufthansa, Emirates and Air France all said they would halt flights over Sinai until the reasons for the crash were known.

The plane lost contact with air traffic control 23 minutes after take-off early on Saturday.

Wreckage and dead bodies were found scattered over a large area south of the town of El-Arish. Many bodies were missing limbs, said an officer, who requested anonymity.

The IS affiliate waging an insurgency in the Sinai claimed it brought down the aircraft in revenge for Russian air strikes against the jihadist group in Syria.

But experts dismissed the idea.

To reach a plane at that altitude "you would need hard-to-use missiles, so it seems unlikely," said Jean-Paul Troadec, former director of France's BEA aviation investigation agency.

"This requires trained people and equipment that IS does not have, to my knowledge."

Experts said a surface-to-air missile could have struck the aircraft if it had been descending, and that a bomb on board could not yet be ruled out, but technical or human error was more likely.

Debris from the Russian A321 at the site of the crash in Wadi el-Zolmat 
on November 1, 2015 (AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)

Full check

An Egyptian air traffic control official said the pilot told him in their last exchange that he had radio trouble, but Civil Aviation Minister Mohamed Hossam Kamal said communications had been "normal".

"There was nothing abnormal... and the pilot didn't ask to change the plane's route," he said.

Russia has a dismal air safety record, and while larger carriers have begun upgrading ageing fleets, the crash is likely to raise concerns about smaller airlines such as Kogalymavia.

On Sunday, the Russian transportation watchdog, Rostransnadzor, ordered Kogalymavia to perform a full check on its A-321s.

Kogalymavia confirmed the instructions but denied this amounted to a de facto grounding of its remaining fleet of six A-321 airliners.

The last major air crash in Egypt was in 2004, when a Flash Airlines Boeing 737 plunged into the Red Sea after taking off from Sharm el-Sheikh, killing all 148 people on board.

Related Article: